Improve your performance conversations
I have worked with thousands of managers and leaders in organisations over the past 15 years and one of the most common areas of anxiety is navigating a conversation about someones performance. I can understand this, it feels uncomfortable for some, even if they have positional power to verbally critique another. We can feel that the other party will take it personally (which they might) or that it will trigger an argument which will undermine performance and relationships moving forward.
In later blog posts we will explore techniques you can do during the conversation to reduce the risk of this happening but for now I wanted to share an important step which should take place, way before the conversation. The contracting conversation about your role as a manager.
If you haven’t done this already, do it tomorrow.
Arrange a one to one with each of your team and talk about what you believe is important as their manager and how this will come out in the way you will manage them.
Regarding performance conversations it may well go something like this: “I really care about your performance and I see it as part of my responsibility to help you be the best you can be. I want you to achieve all you can in your role and career. As part of that, if I see something I think you do well, something that I think will accelerate your performance in this way I will tell you about it, so you can repeat it in different situations in the future.
Equally if I become aware of something that I think is getting in the way of you being as good as you could be, or something which I don’t think is helping your performance and something I believe you have the capacity to change, I will also let you know.
That way you can make some choices about how you might want to change your approach moving forward.
Is there anything I should bear in mind about the way I should do this to make these conversations most effective for you?
What do you believe is important in the way we work together?
By doing this in advance, it helps people prepare and removes concerns about your motives. It allows feedback to flow as it should, like breathing. Honest, uncontrived and well intended.